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Punalur (India)
Coordinates: 9°01′01″N76°55′34″E / 9.017°N 76.926°E / 9.017; 76.926 Coordinates: 9°01′01″N76°55′34″E / 9.017°N 76.926°E / 9.017; 76.926
CountryFlag of India.svg  India
State Kerala
District Kollam
  Total34.35 km2 (13.26 sq mi)
56 m (184 ft)
 (2011) [1]
  Density1,400/km2 (3,500/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+5:30 (IST)
691305 to 034
Telephone code0475
Vehicle registration KL 25
Nearest city Kollam (44 km)
Website www.punalurmunicipality.in www.voiceofpunalur.com

Punalur is a Municipality in Kollam district of Kerala State in India. It is the headquarter of the Punalur Taluk and Punalur Revenue Division. It's situated in the eastern part of Kollam district of Kerala, on the banks of the Kallada River and foothills of the western ghats. It is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) north-east of Kollam and 68 kilometres (42 mi) north of Thiruvananthapuram.



It is believed that Punalur derived its name by the word 'Punal' (river in old Tamil and Malayalam as in "kuruthipunal=river of blood" according to Dr. Hermann Gundert),[ citation needed ] and "Ooru" (place), referring to the river passing through the City.


Punalur is a Municipal town on a mountain path that had good relations with Tamil Nadu to the East from time unknown. Most parts of Punalur taluk were inhabited before the Indus Valley civilization. Human civilizations existed in Punalur during the Mesolithic period, mainly around Thenmalai (known as Shenduruny). Punalur is described in inscriptions of Mithranandpuram and Vellayani. Until 1734, Punalur was under the direct rule of the Ilaydathu Swaroopam. Later it was annexed by Marthanda Varma and came under the rule of Travancore. The British Raj established a good hold over this part of India due to its rich agricultural resources.

Historically, Shenduruny has a rich heritage. A recent study conducted by Dr. P. Rajendran [2] ], archaeological research associate of the Poona Deccan College, has resulted in the excavation of the remains of Stone Age culture from a large cave situated at the north western part of the Shenduruny (Kallada) River. It was proved that these remains belong to the Mesolithic period. This study brought out the fact that the Shenduruny River Valley Civilization was one of the oldest river valley civilizations in India. It dates to between 5210 and 4420 BC, making it older than the Indus Valley Civilization which is believed to have flourished from 4400 to 3700 BC. Cave paintings seen here are comparable to the Mesolithic paintings found in the caves of central India. The cave found here is large enough to hold at least twenty people at a time. According to Dr. Rajendran, the marshy place seen below just in front of the cave once must have been a lake. Now the Shenduruny River has the reputation that it had nourished a civilization in the prehistoric past.

Punalur also served as a pivot point in the rise of the independence movement and against the rule of Diwan. Many meetings were centered on Punalur due to its close proximity to Tamil Nadu. Many important decisions on planning and attacking Tirunelveli collector were taken in Punalur.

The Taluk headquarters was shifted from Pathanapuram to Punalur, after an attack at Pathanapuram in 1880. This helped aid the growth of Punalur. Later the flow of goods to and from Tamil Nadu started traveling through Punalur. Punalur is the first settlement after the Western ghats.One of the oldest churches in Kerala,was established by LMS Missionaries in Punalur during 1885.The CSI Church Punalur built by the British was used by the English men working in paper mill. The church was also used as a school during the week days as a part of providing education to the natives. It was the first school of Punalur during the rule of British. The opening of the Punalur Suspension Bridge increased the importance of Punalur as a center of trade between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Later the rail route between Kollam and Thiruchendur made the town more prosperous.

Punalur Paper Mills, the first of its kind in Kerala, served both as an economic center as well as a source of jobs. The Punalur paper mill employees' union was one of the first organised employee unions in the state of Kerala itself. The workers of Punalur paper mill actively participated in movements including the freedom fight and the riot against Diwan rule. Later the Travancore plywood industry added to Punalur's importance in the industrial field. Punalur Market (formerly Sri Ramapuram market) is one of the largest vegetable/agro-products markets in Kerala.

The cultural history of Punalur reflects in the work of traditional and modern artists and performing groups of music, drama, cinema, etc., especially acclaimed contributions of Punalur N. Rajagopalan Nair, Punalur Balan and Lalithambika Antharjanam in theatre and Malayalam literature.


Punalur Kallada River seen from Punalur Suspension Bridge Punalur kallada river.jpg
Punalur Kallada River seen from Punalur Suspension Bridge

Punalur has an average elevation of 56 metres (184 ft). [3] Many tourists have visited scenic spots along the Kallada River. [4] The Palaruvi Falls is 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Punalur. [5] The first planned eco-tourism project in Kerala is only 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Punalur on NH 744 towards Sengottai.


Punalur Assembly constituency is part of the Kollam (Lok Sabha constituency). P.S.Supal is the MLA of Punalur assembly constituency. N. K. Premachandran is MP of Kollam (Lok Sabha constituency). [6]

Government Administration

Punalur Municipality was established on 1 April 1971, with an area of 34.06 square kilometers. Currently, Punalur is a Grade-II municipality and divided into 35 electoral wards. Punalur is the largest municipality in Kollam District.

Punalur is one of the two Revenue Divisions (RDO) of Kollam district and another being Kollam itself. Punalur Revenue divisional office was established on Keralapiravi day 1 November 2018. It's headed by RDO/Sub Collector. Punalur RDO headquarters is situated at PWD complex, TB Jn. Punalur Revenue division is administratively divided into three Taluks: Punalur, Kottarakkara, and Pathanapuram, each of which is subdivided into 50 villages. Punalur is the headquarters of the Punalur Taluk and is one of the major and largest Taluks in Kollam District. This Taluk comprises 15 villages.

Punalur is the Sub-divisional headquarters of the Kollam Rural Police. It's headed by Deputy Superintendent of Police/Assistant Superintendent of Police. Punalur Police Station is a major police station in Kollam rural district and located at Chemmanthoor Jn., Police Control Room & Highway Police base Station are also functioning in Punalur. Punalur Railway Police Station is the one & only Railway Police Station in Kollam Rural District.


Punalur taluk hospital is considered to be one of the best Hospitals in public sector healthcare in India with ultra-modern facilities. The District Cancer Care Centre is also functioning in Punalur. Govt. Hospital for Mother & Child also sanctioned in Punalur. Now, it is the biggest Govt. Taluk Hospital in Kerala with 11 Floors. A proposal for this Hospital to upgraded as a General Hospital/District Specialty Hospital. The Punalur Taluk Hospital has set a benchmark in public sector healthcare to get a new hi-tech building under Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). The building will have 32 outpatient units functioning at the same time, which is first of its kind in a taluk hospital. INKEL will construct the 11-storey Rs 68-crore building having a total area of 2,00,000 sq feet under the ‘Aardram’ mission. The new facility will have 333 beds for inpatients, 94 ICU beds and seven lifts. "The hospital will compete with any of the corporate hospitals in the state, with 32 doctors available at a time attend outpatients in the new building." The hospital had bagged awards from Kerala State Pollution Control Board for the last six consecutive years of which three are excellence awards. The hospital already has employed 40 advanced cosmetology procedures including skin platelet-rich plasma administration, follicle transplantation, squint correction, and dental jewellery. The programme ‘Beside you – birth companion scheme’ permits husband or female relative of pregnant women to be present in the labor room at the time of delivery.

The hospital is also the first to employ a painless delivery facility in a public sector hospital in the state. The hospital has centralised systems for air, oxygen, and suction in all beds, probably the lone facility in public health centres. Dialysis and cancer care services are free. Palliative care also functions at the hospital, which receives over 2,000 outpatients per day a number a private hospital under normal circumstances used to have.

ESI Hospital, Government Taluk Ayurveda and Homeo Hospitals also Major private Hospitals functioning in Punalur.


Even though it is located near the Western Ghats, Punalur is the hottest place in Kerala,[ citation needed ] and during summer temperatures as high as 40 °C (104 °F) have been recorded. One of Kerala's weather stations in Punalur and Chittur, Palakkad had a long reputation of being the hottest places in Kerala, but Punalur broke all heat records in 2007 and 2009. The summers of 2007 and 2009 were the hottest when the maximum temperature hovered around 40 °C (104 °F) for many days. Punalur also holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in lowland/midland regions of Kerala; with 12.9 °C (55.2 °F) on 8 January 1968. Minimum temperatures in January–February on a cloudless day can be as low as 16 °C (61 °F) and maximum in March–April can be as high as 40 °C (104 °F). Because of this, Punalur is also known as "The Hot City Of Kerala".[ citation needed ]

Climate data for Punalur (1981–2010, extremes 1956–2012)
Record high °C (°F)38.8
Mean maximum °C (°F)35.8
Average high °C (°F)33.9
Average low °C (°F)20.8
Mean minimum °C (°F)18.4
Record low °C (°F)12.9
Average rainfall mm (inches)14.0
Average rainy days1.02.35.511.311.620.520.215.712.016.910.12.3129.4
Average relative humidity (%) (at 17:30 IST)51515464667576747274706166
Source: India Meteorological Department [7] [8]
Photo of the article Punalur Suspension Brige.jpg
Photo of the article

Punalur Suspension Bridge

The Punalur Suspension Bridge is the oldest motorable bridge in Kerala, which was built by the British on AD 1877 and is now a historical attraction. It is also known as "London Bridge Of Kerala". The bridge has a length of 400 feet. The suspension bridge was built to prevent wild animals from crossing into the town from the forest area of old Kattupathanapuram. It is the symbol of Punalur now. It is added to Kerala Tourism Circuit recently. Punalur is also known as the " City of hanging bridge"

Punalur Paper Mill

It is believed that the oldest paper mill in the country was started at Punalur in 1886. The mill used reeds to make paper and was opened by T.J. Cameroon, an industrialist from Britain. One of the mill's customers when they were open was the India Security Press. Up to 1931, Punalur was renamed multiple times. [9] In 1987, the mill which was managed by L.N. Dalmia and had around 1020 employees was shut down due to huge liabilities. [10]


Major roads

Punalur Ksrtc bus stand Punalur ksrtcbustand.jpg
Punalur Ksrtc bus stand

Kollam – Thirumangalam Road (NH-744) passes through Punalur, connects the City to Tamil Nadu and other parts of the districts. The Main Eastern Highway, which is Punalur-Pathanamthitta-Pala-Muvattupuzha Road / SH – 08 starts from Punalur. SH-48 (Punalur-Ayoor Road) is connected to the state capital of Trivandrum from Punalur. SH -5 (Punalur/Pathanapuram-Kayamkulam road ) connects to Cochin from the city and the largest state highway (SH-59: Hill Highway) in Kerala state is also passes through this city. Commutation in this hilly city is mainly dependent on state-run KSRTC, SETC and private bus services.

Road transport

Punalur Sub-Regional Transport Office is situated at Nellippaly Jn, Punalur, KL-25 is the vehicle registration code for Punalur Taluk. Punalur KSRTC Depot is one of the major and oldest KSRTC depot in Kerala. Hon.Transport Minister officially declared for Punalur KSRTC Sub-Depot upgraded to District Depot status on 27 September 2021.It is well connected to the capital city of Kerala Thiruvananthapuram, and the district headquarters of Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Wayanad etc. During the Sabarimala season, Punalur KSRTC Depot operates Pamba and Erumely special services from Punalur Railway station-Punalur bus stand -towards Pathanamthitta-Pamba. It is the most helpful for many devotees to reach their Sabarimala. Punalur private bus stand is one of the largest Private bus stands in Kerala. Private bus services well connected by Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki and Ernakulam Districts. KSRTC and SETC Interstate services to towns in Tamil Nadu like Sengottai, Tenkasi, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tiruchendur, Madurai, Trichi, Chennai, Velankanni, Salem and Hosur. KSRTC ply town to town and Fast Passenger services in Punalur mainly through Main Eastern Highway linking Punalur to Pathanamthitta, Ranni, Erumely, Kanjirappally, Ponkunnam, Palai, Mundakayam, Kattappana, Kumily, Thodupuzha, Muvattupuzha, Kottayam and many more towns in high ranges of Kerala. Plenty of A/C Luxury Bus services are operated from Punalur to Bangalore, Chennai, Madurai, Pondicherry and Coimbatore on a daily basis. Many other services are also operated by KSRTC to interior villages like Mathra, Achenkovil, Rosemala, Tenmala, Aryankavu, Pattazhy, Thalachira and Kokkadu.


Punalur railway station is The second-largest Railway station in Kollam District, a major transit point and a main destination Railway Station in Kerala located on the Kollam  Sengottai railway line. It is also known as the Gateway of Sabarimala. Station Manager's office, Railway Protection Force (RPF) Station, Assistant divisional Electrical Engineer's Office, Southern Railway Sectional Engineer office, and Track Machine Maintenance section also functioning in Punalur Railway Station. The construction of the meter gauge rail route between Kollam – Punalur and Punalur – Sengottai (Ghats Section) along the scenic mountain terrain was started in 1873 by the British engineers and was completed in 1902. Travancore rulers in association with the British prepared the plan for the track through the challenging mountain terrain as it involved the construction of long arch bridges over steep valleys and tunnels across the rocky mountains of Western Ghats. [11]

Thirteen Arch Railway Bridge 13 Arch bridge Kazhuthurutty Kerala.jpg
Thirteen Arch Railway Bridge

The first goods train travelled on this route in 1902 and a train carrying its first passengers began its run in 1904. It makes for a thrilling train journey as it passes over five big bridges and hundreds of tiny ones while negotiating mountain streams and valleys. Passengers are also treated to a breath-taking view of the Western Ghats. The train also passes through five tunnels on this stretch, including the one-kilometre-long tunnel between Bhagawathipuram and Arayankavu. The station at Punalur is equipped with the locomotive service centre, parcel and timber depot, train parking bays, storage tanks for water and oil, etc. This route is in the process of up-gradation to broad-gauge and the first part of conversion finished between Kollam and Punalur. The second part of conversion work on Punalur-Sengottai ghat section also finished and starts passenger and goods services. Now this will serve as the shortest rail-route from Kochi port to Tuticorin port. The infrastructure of the station will be changed as proposed in tune with handling demands and historical accuracy.

The Punalur Railway Station currently connects to Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad Junction, Nagarcoil, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Madurai, Thiruchirappally, Chennai and Velankanni. The station handles six express train services to Velankanni, Chennai Egmore, Ernakulam, Kollam Junction, Thirunelveli, Palakkad Junction and eight passenger train services, of which four services ply to Kollam Junction, another four services ply to Sengottai, Madurai Junction, Guruvayur and Kanyakumari.


The main agricultural products of this City include rubber, black pepper, and other spices. Punalur Sreeramavarmapuram Market is one of the largest vegetable market in Kerala. The chief commodities of export here are the hill products: pineapple, pepper products, plywood and timber. The Punalur Paper Mill Ltd., a paper industry established in 1888 by a German national, was closed in 1987 due to labour disputes. Various attempts to resolve the issues over two decades failed to produce any result but finally reached a legal settlement in February 2011 between the new management and the State Government. It is in the process of running by the newly formed management. A major share of PPM is owned by Akhula Industries, Hyderabad.

The economic activity of the town was at its height during the time of Punalur Paper Mill. The closure of the paper mill impacted economy. Currently other major industrial establishments like Kerala Agro Industries Corporation Limited, State Farming Corporation, Rehabilitation Plantations, RPC Kraft Paper, plywood industry, etc. still provide a significant contribution to the economy.

The Punalur market is also assisted by the agricultural industries.

Punalur was one of the earliest center of Plywood industry in Travancore. The plywood manufactured here played a key role in packing Tea. The industry sprouted in the city when Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma opened a plywood factory named Travancore Plywood Industries, as joint venture near Kuriottumala in the shores of Kallada River in 1943. The factory came under ownership of Kerala State Industrial Enterprises Limited in 1973. The factory closed down in 1990's following a series of financial Provident fund default litigation issues that emerged. The land is earmarked for development of Rubber Park.


As of 2011 India census, [12] Punalur had a population of 46,702. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. Punalur has an average literacy rate of 84%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 85%, and female literacy is 82%. In Punalur, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. Sree Bharanikavu Devi Temple is a Hindu temple located here.

Notable people


Educational institutions



Punalur has numerous government, aided, and unaided schools. Starting from the first school, St. John's L. P. School popular as 'Roma School' opened in thatched sheds in the St. Mary's Church campus during the late 19th century, The Government Higher Secondary School in Punalur and the Taluk Samjam schools were established in the early 20th century. Later the Taluk Samajam schools were split into boys HSS, girls HS, and the Chemmanthoor HS. Another educational institution was established in the St. Mary's Church Campus namely, St. Goretti H.S.S. on the outskirts of the city. SNDP had established an institution namely SN Trust H.S.S.Among unaided schools, the notable institutions are Sabarigiri, St. Thomas, Toch, Fathima, Oxford. From playschool to higher secondary classes are available in these institutions. Sree Thyagaraja school of music and dance is an institution working in Punalur since 1901.

Related Research Articles

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Adoor Municipality in Kerala, India

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Kottarakkara Municipal Town in Kerala, India

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Ponkunnam Town in Kerala, India

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Pathanamthitta Town in Kerala, India

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Punnala is a small village situated in Kollam district of Kerala, India. Punnala is located at a distance of 8 kilometers from both Pathanapuram and Punalur and 1 km from Chachipunna. It is in the Pathanapuram Taluk, Pathanapuram Assembly Constituency and Mavelikkara Parliament Constituency. Punnala is a part of Pathanapuram Block Panchayat and Kollam district Panchayat.

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Thenmala Village in Kerala, India

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Pattazhy Village settlement Pattazhy in Kerala, India

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Kallada River River in South kerala

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St. Marys Cathedral, Punalur

St. Mary's Cathedral is the first church in the centuries-old history of this industrial town Punalur, on the banks of Kallada river. Catholics and Christian faithful working in Punalur Paper Mills, Railway and Rubber Estates along with the farmers were the early community of the church. Schools, orphanage, mission centers and other institutions start building gradually to meet the growing demands of the community of vibrant ethnic culture.

Aryankavu Village in Kerala, India

Aryankavu is a village located in the Kollam district of the Indian state of Kerala. It lies close to the border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu near Thenmala. It is also one of the famous pilgrimage sites associated with the legend of Sabarimala. The village is located besides Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary.

Main Eastern Highway

The Main Eastern Highway is the lifeline of the high range townships of the Travancore region of Kerala state, India. It is also known as Punalur-Muvattupuzha Highway. Main Eastern Highway is categorized as State Highway - 08 of Kerala. It is the second longest State Highway of Kerala covering a distance of 153.6 km. The districts it passes through are Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki and Ernakulam.

Vettikkavala is a village located in the Kollam district in the state of Kerala, India. One point of interest within the village is a Shiva-Vishnu temple which hosts a special deity called Vathukkal Njali Kunju. An annual celebration of Pongala is held at the temple. The village is also well known for temple arts and a palace constructed by Sree Moolam Thirunal.

Kollam–Sengottai Chord Line Railway line in southern India

The Kollam–Sengottai railway line is a railway line in South India which connects Kollam Junction in Kerala state and Sengottai in Tamil Nadu. The Quilon–Shencottah railway line was the first railway line in the erstwhile Travancore state and is more than a century old. The Kollam–Sengottai section is part of the Kollam–Chennai metre-gauge rail route commissioned by the British in 1904. The line has been completely converted to broad gauge and is now fully operational from Kollam Junction to Shengottai.

Punalur railway station is the second-largest Railway Station In Kollam District located at Nedumkayam, Punalur on the Kollam–Sengottai branch line. It is the Gateway of Sabarimala. For Sabarimala devotees from Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka, SCT–PUU is the easy way. The temples related to Sabarimala like Achankovil, Aryankavu, and Kulathuppuzha are Located near Punalur. The Kollam–Shencottah railway line is the first railway line in erstwhile Travancore state and is more than a century old.
The Kollam–Sengottai section is part of the Kollam–Chennai metre-gauge rail route commissioned by the British during 1904. The line which was metre gauge has been completely converted into broad gauge and train services started.

Transport in Kollam

Transport in Kollam includes various modes of road, rail and water transportation in the city and its suburbs. State-owned Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses, private buses, Indian Railways, state-owned Kerala State Water Transport Department boats & ferry, taxis and auto rickshaws are serving the city of Kollam. The city had a strong commercial reputation since the days of the Phoenicians and Romans. Ibn Battuta mentioned Kollam Port as one of the five Indian ports he had seen during the course of his twenty-four year travels.

Kuri railway station

Kuri railway station or Kura railway station(Code: KIF) is an 'F-Class' halt railway station, situated at the Kollam–Sengottai branch line of Southern Railway, India. The station is situated between Avaneeswaram and Kottarakara railway stations in Kollam district, Kerala. The station is coming under Madurai railway division of Southern Railway zone. The nearest major rail head of Kuri railway station is Kollam Junction railway station.

Kollam District has four types of administrative hierarchies:


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